Cannonball Jesus


Cannonball Jesus
by Brian Zahnd

 “You cannot bear to hear my word.” -Jesus (The Gospel of John)

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” -T.S. Eliot (The Four Quartets)

“Ya can’t look at much, can ya man?”
-Bob Dylan (Visions of Johanna)

It seems to me that what we really want is a tame Jesus, a domesticated Christ.

We want a Jesus who will “save our soul” — not so much now, but later on.

We want a Savior who tweaks the status quo, making slight improvements on the basic scheme of things.

We want a divine “life coach” to make us winners in The Game.

What we don’t want is The Game itself to be called into question. (Even though it turns out to cause significant “head injuries” to 100% of the players.)

What we don’t want is a complete rethink of the foundations of the world. (Not we who are the global 4%, a.k.a Americans.)

What we don’t want is a new world where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. (Heaven forbid!)

Yes, I deeply suspect that people like me really don’t want a cannonball Jesus who might lay waste to the way we’ve arranged the world.

We want a Jesus who will prosper us…but not critique the “divine mind” of The Market.

We want a Jesus who will bless us to win our wars…but not call us to rethink the venerable practice of killing our enemies.

We want a Jesus who will heal our diseases…but not challenge us to find a way as a community to care for our sick.

We want a Jesus who will endorse our politics…but we wouldn’t dare let him speak for himself at our political conventions.

Loose cannonball, you know.

Don’t think I’m getting all preachy. Oh, no, I’m talking mainly to myself…in a monolog.

(It’s for me and my friends that my stories are told.)

I love Jesus. That’s for sure. But man, oh, man, he scares me! I really do think he’d take a wrecking ball to much of what I’m most comfortable with. My sacred security. My middle-class comfort. My American dream.

I know this much, it takes real courage to be willing to encounter Christ as he is.

Oh, let me just say it the way I want to…

It takes balls to be willing to meet the real-deal Jesus face to face stripped of religious varnish!

He’s merciful, but he’s a cannonball.

He’s gracious, but he’s a wrecking ball.

Jesus saves me and slays me.

Jesus blesses me and wrecks me.

Jesus fascinates me and terrifies me.

I met Jesus in a dream once, and I’ll tell you it was wonderful and terrible all at the same time.

Cannonball Jesus.

He blows me away.